The numbers: Existing-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual 5.19 million rate in April, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. That was 0.4% lower than March and 4.4% lower than a year ago.
What happened: Sales of previously-owned homes have been choppy recently; following a big surge in February, they retreated in March. For April, the MarketWatch consensus was for a 5.35 million selling pace, not a decline.
The median selling price in April was $267,300, a 3.6% annual increase. At the current pace of sales, it would take 4.2 months to exhaust available supply, well below the 6-month threshold that’s traditionally been considered a marker of a balanced market. Properties stayed on the market for an average of 24 days in April.
Sales were down 4.5% in the Northeast and 0.4% in the South. They were flat in the Midwest and up 1.8% in the West.
First-time buyers made up 32% of transactions in April, while individual investors accounted for 16% of buyers during the month. But more recent comprehensive research – NAR’s is based on survey data – suggests first-time buyers currently make up about the same share of the market that they have for the past two decades – nearly half.
Big picture: The Realtor lobby group remains upbeat, noting in a release that their chief economist, Lawrence Yun, “expects moderate growth very soon.” Yun last week released an updated 2019 forecast: he expects existing-home sales to stagnate this year at 5.34 million homes sold, the same as 2018 and down 3% from 2017. Read more